Strangers to Us All
Lawyers and Poetry

Joseph Addison Wing


Joseph A. Wing was born in East Montpelier on October 26, 1810. He read law and take up the practice of law in Plainfield, Vermont in 1835. In 1858, Wing move to Montpelier where he continued to practice law and write poetry. [Source: M. D. Gilman, The Bibliography of Vermont 337 (Burlington, Vermont: Printed by the Free Press Association, 1897)]

"Joseph Addison WING, of Montpelier, son of Josiah and Polly (Gray) Wing, was born in what is now East Montpelier, October 26, 1810. He went to district schools in the summer till seven years old and then to winter district schools till he was eighteen, and attended the Grammar School three months. He lamed his shoulder, concluded to study law, entered his name in Merrill & Spaulding's office, used to come and get books once in two weeks, meantime working on the farm three miles from here and reading at home, until November, 1834, when he came into their office and read there till April, 1835. He went, to Plainfield, May 13, 1835, and began practice and says: "I supposed, in 1835, when I started, I knew just as much law as I suppose I know now." He was admitted April term, 1836.

M r. Wing is especially a chancery lawyer. He has all his life delighted in that form of practice. Another delight of his has been pleading in law cases. He used to read the pleadings in every case in court. And he has always been ready and willing to give the younger members of the bar the benefit of his knowledge of pleadings and practice. He knows more statute law and points decided by the courts than any other man who has been at this bar. He is an indefatigable worker, and to this day carefully prepares and writes out at length many of his arguments.

One of his first cases is illustrative of the man and the lawyer. James Bell in 1836 brought suit for a client before a justice in Caledonia county. Wing was employed to defend, got beaten, and took an appeal to County Court. There he called in L. B. Peck to help him; they got beaten; Wing told Peck he was going up to the Supreme Court; Peck said not to do it. Wing carried it up all the same, got a new trial, went back to the County Court, and got beaten worse than ever. Peck said: "You've got beat this time"; Wing said: "No, there is a hole just big enough for me to get through." I. F. Redfield was presiding in the County Court; Wing had taken exceptions and asked to have them allowed; Redfield said there was nothing in them and that he would not stay execution. Wing said: "Your honor, the execution is yours, the exceptions are mine." He went up to the Supreme Court again, got another trial ordered, and at that trial in the County Court ended the case by getting a verdict ordered for the defendant, the plaintiff not being able to change his case from what the last exceptions showed it to, have been at the preceding trial.

Mr. Wing moved from Plainfield to Montpelier, in June, 1858, and has practiced in Montpelier ever since. He marred Samantha Elizabeth Webster, January 1, 1840, and their sons, George W. and John G., and their daughters, Mrs. Florence A. Blakely, Mrs. Annette M. Farewell, Alice M., and Elizabeth B., all live in Montpelier." [William Adams (ed.), Gazetteer Of Washington County, Vt. 1783-1899 (Syracuse, New York: 1889) [online text]


Joseph A. Wing, "Pluck" and Other Poems (Montpelier, Vermont: Freeman steam Printing House and Bindery, 1878)

Research Resources

Hon. George W. Cate
[read law with Joseph A. Wing]